- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 28, 2018

The Trump administration has asked for $81.1 billion in funding for the secretive, so-called “black budget” that bankrolls U.S. intelligence operations, constituting the largest request of its kind ever revealed.

President Trump has requested $59.9 billion in fiscal 2019 for the National Intelligence Program, or NIP, the part of budget that covers all non-military efforts, the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence announced Tuesday.

The administration separately asked for $21.2 billion in fiscal 2019 meant for the Military Intelligence Program, or MIP, the remaining black budget component that encompasses the U.S. Department of Defense’s intelligence activities, including programs conducted by units including the U.S. Special Operations Command and the Office of Naval Intelligence, among others, the Pentagon said Tuesday in its own announcement.

Combined the $81.1 billion requested constitute an increase of 3.4 percent over the $78.4 billion the Trump administration wanted for fiscal 2018, in turn making the latest figure the largest amount ever publicized since the government began disclosing its intelligence budget requests in 2007.

Aside from the amounts requested and appropriated, however, details involving the actual activities funded by the black budget are few and far between.

“Any and all subsidiary information concerning the NIP budget, whether the information concerns particular intelligence agencies or particular intelligence programs, will not be disclosed,” said the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. “Beyond the disclosure of the NIP top-line figure, there will be no other disclosures of currently classified NIP budget information because such disclosures could harm national security. The only exceptions to the foregoing are for unclassified appropriations, such as for the Intelligence Community Management Account.”

The Pentagon, meanwhile, said that releasing solely the the $21.1 billion top line figure “does not jeopardize any classified activities within the MIP.”

“No other MIP budget figures or program details will be released, as they remain classified for national security reasons,” the Pentagon said.

Congress will ultimately decide how much of the amount to appropriate, albeit after the current fiscal year ends Sept. 30.

While typically kept under wraps, former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden revealed previously unreported details about the black budget by leaking records in 2013 that showed how funding was divided among intelligence agencies. The CIA and NSA received $14.7 billion and $10.5 billion respectively during fiscal 2013 — or more than a third than the $67.6 billion allocated that year among all civilian and military intelligence programs, according to the leak.

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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